Even after a rather dreadful performance overall against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 at home in a 16-14 loss, which saw rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett knocked out of the game early due to a sack on a miscommunication up front, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line somehow climbed five spots in the latest Pro Football Focus positional rankings Wednesday.
Sam Monson, who puts together the position rankings each week in the trenches for PFF, bumped the Steelers up into the top 20 after a poor showing Sunday against the Ravens, landing the Steelers’ offensive line at No. 18 overall, moving above the likes of the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Washington Commanders, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets.
Against the Ravens, the Steelers’ offensive line allowed one sack, three quarterback hits, six hurries and 10 pressures on the afternoon, and did that while struggling to do anything in the run game, rushing for just 65 yards on 20 carries in the loss. Pittsburgh was dominated up front on both sides of the football, which makes it rather interesting to see the offensive line climb five spots overall.
According to PFF, all five starters were at a 56.3 overall or below in pass blocking, with left tackle Dan Moore Jr. being the highest graded at 56.3, right guard James Daniels came in at a shocking 3.1 overall. Yes, a 3.1 overall in pass blocking from PFF.
“Every member of the line allowed at least one pressure against Baltimore this past week, with Chukwuma Okorafor leading the team with three pressures surrendered,” Monson writes regarding the Steeler offensive line ranking ahead of Week 15. “Pittsburgh’s line is significantly better as a pass-protecting unit than it is run-blocking. They rank eighth in pass-blocking efficiency.”
Pittsburgh is a much better team from a pass-blocking standpoint than run-blocking this season, that much is certain. They weren’t efficient in any area on Sunday, getting dominated at the point of attack throughout the matchup.
A miscommunication between left guard Kevin Dotson and center Mason Cole led to Pickett’s injury, Moore Jr. had a holding call in the loss, and Daniels and Okorafor really struggled on the right side of the offensive line throughout the matchup. After putting together some solid weeks overall, the Steelers’ offensive line took a significant step backward on Sunday against the Ravens.
It won’t get any easier in Week 15 on the road against the Carolina Panthers, led by star pass rusher Brian Burns and dominant interior defensive lineman Derrick Brown. Burns leads the Panthers in pressures with 59 and is a game-wrecking pass rusher, while Brown has been rather stout against the run and really disruptive overall in both phases.
For the Steelers to get back to their winning ways, the offensive line needs to get back on track in a hurry, starting this week in Carolina. After being bullied throughout Sunday’s matchup, the black and gold need a big response from their big men in the trenches Sunday.